Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told members of Congress that his memo to President Trump detailing concerns about James Comey’s actions as FBI director was “not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination” of Comey.
The White House initially cited Rosenstein’s memo as the basis for Trump’s sudden dismissal of the FBI director on May 9.
The deputy attorney general stood by the contents of his memo in his comments to Congress on Thursday, maintaining his disagreement with Comey’s actions in relation to the investigation of Hillary Clinton‘s emails as secretary of state, according to Rosenstein’s prepared opening statement to both the House and Senate.
“I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it,” Rosenstein said in his two separate briefings on Comey’s firing, one to the Senate yesterday and the other to the House today. “Notwithstanding my personal affection for Director Comey, I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader,”
Rosenstein said he first learned of Trump’s intent to remove Comey on May 8. The next day, Comey was dismissed and the deputy attorney general sent his memo to the president who, Rosenstein said, had “sought [his] advice and input.”
In his letter to Comey on May 9, the president cited Rosenstein’s memo in his dismissal of the FBI director whose agency was investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
In the two days that followed, White House officials and Vice President Mike Pence said Trump was acting on the recommendation of the deputy attorney general. But Trump later changed this account. In an interview two days after the firing, Trump told NBC he had been planning to terminate Comey regardless and was thinking of Russia when he made that decision.
Rosenstein in his remarks to Congress today echoed the contents of the memo he sent to Trump in his criticism of the former FBI chief’s handling of the Clinton email probe,…